“Like the waters of the river, like the motorists on the highway, and like the yellow trains streaking down the Santa Fe tracks, drama, in the shape of exceptional happenings, had never stopped there.”
-Truman Capote, In Cold Blood
I see Truman Capote from time to time. He shops at Whole Foods and his staples are haunting little mysteries that would strip the plush off ryegrass. His epicurean habits are a brilliant formula of brevity meeting up with Caravaggio.On this occasion, his cart holds California Champagne Vinegar, Goat Cheese Mini-Medallions, 7-Up, Cippoline Onions, Castelvetrano olives and Blueberry Pie.
He is always alone, the erstwhile city dweller tending to his daily palette in a high stepping gallivant. But his mood is always somber and his eyes remain hidden as he goes about his business. It’s like he wants the world to turn on its heels and take two steps back from him, because he doesn’t recognize its presence any longer. The whole idea bothers him more than slightly, so his manner is stilted and abrupt. He peddles his cart mockingly, as if a medieval trouvere forced to conceptualize romance for minstrels.
When he stands in the checkout line, he breathes in his gut like Harper Lee used to do every time Truman went deep sea fishing for the hook to a new story. He fidgets like the typical introvert who’s trapped inside an extroverted body as his brain types witty banter for the checkout lady, to be delivered in fifteen items or less.
I watch him part the sliding glass doors with none of the flourish he once possessed so mightily, back inside a time when his walk for the morning paper held court with a million different crime scenes for his recklessly ambitious mind.
Now he departs and it reminds me of the sleep that has inhabited his absence from the world, a gaping tempest of a wound. His form begins its vanishing act, back to the lonely plains of New Orleans and Manhattan, Portofino and Bel Air. And I want to call out to him, because I have so many questions; the kind he used to answer in bold font, once upon a time.
I want to ask about his time in Garden City. And how he ransomed the words to make heartache speak so kindly. I want to know how he found inspiration as his feet dangled off the edge, and I want to know why the world doesn’t speak the same language as the lions who once roamed here.
He’ll fix me with a look before bemoaning the fact that ninety percent of the life we know is too dull to mention. And then he’ll say something like “Make the ten percent you do plumb worth giving a shit about,” And then I’ll fix us up with a couple tumblers of J&B Rare and light his Gold Flake cigarette as he carves the first sentence to a thousand different lanes of thought
This is gonna be good.